In Murchison, tumbling river rapids add freshness to the air and forested hills beckon bushwalkers. This humble township, 125km southwest of Nelson and 95km east of Westport, lies on the 'Four Rivers Plain'. The mightiest waterway is the Buller, running alongside Murchison, whose class II-IV rapids have made Murchison hugely popular with experienced rafters, as well as those testing the waters for the first time (some jetboat operators have trips to suit kids…and risk-averse grown-ups).

Unless you have a passion for small-town history and antiques, Murchison itself won't excite you. But a day or two spent rafting or tramping here is a satisfying, adrenaline-drenched way to break up journeys between Nelson and the West Coast.